Herb Keinon
The Jerusalem Post
June 22, 2011 - 12:00am

The greatest risk at a time of sweeping change in the Middle East is to think that this is the time to sit still and “do nothing," Dennis Ross, the White House's chief Middle East advisor said Wednesday.

Ross, speaking at the Presidential Conference in Jerusalem, said that while he understands the impulse to “stand pat" and avoid taking risks, certain realities -- such as demographic trends that will present Israel with the dilemma of being either a Jewish or a democratic state - cannot be “wished away.”

Ross’ comments seemed a gentle criticism of voices in the Israeli government saying, that at a time when everything is changing in the Middle East, this is not the time for Israel to take far-reaching risks, not knowing what will be in countries like Syria, Egypt and even Jordan tomorrow. US President Barack Obama, in his speech on the Middle East at the State Department last month, made a very similar statement.

Ross, who has been in the country for a week trying to find a formula to enable a re-starting of Israeli-Palestinian talks, said that while there “are more pitfalls on the path to peace" than he could detail, this did not mean that tackling the challenges was impossible.

Ross stressed in his speech that when Obama said an agreement should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed land swaps, his formula enables the parties to take into account “changes on the ground" when drawing up final borders.

According to Ross, Obama understands that for Israel to take risks for peace, it must feel secure and able to defend itself, by itself, against all combination of threats. Ross, who pointed out that he has worked in five different US Administrations, said the “current support for, and cooperation with Israel,” on security issues “is simply unprecedented. And that is a fact.”


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